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Food

Mario Batali officially out at all 16 of his restaurants, including Mozzaplex in L.A.

Mario Batali
Mario Batali in New York in 2017.
(Brent N. Clarke / Associated Press)

A year after sexual misconduct allegations against Mario Batali roiled the industry, the celebrity chef’s ties to all of his restaurants were formally severed Wednesday.

Batali, 58, no longer has any financial stake in the 16 restaurants in which he had been an investor, including five in Southern California: Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca in Los Angeles, and Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach.

His stake in those restaurants has been bought out by members of the Bastianich family, Batali’s longtime business partners, according to a spokeswoman for siblings Joe Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali.

Batali is “officially out,” she said. The divestment means Batali has “no financial interest in the restaurants anymore, and is no longer profiting from them in any form.”

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The spokeswoman declined to share financial details of the buyout but said as part of the agreement, the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group would be renamed.

Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton, who opened the Mozzaplex family of restaurants with Batali and Joe Bastianich, said in an interview Wednesday that she would continue to work with the new restaurant group.

“It’s time to just move forward in a positive direction,” she said. The Bastianiches “want to brush off the dust, move forward with fresh air and try to bring new life to the company, and I think they’re going to do it. And I’m certainly going to help them on my end in Los Angeles.”

They are working together on Silverton’s next project, the Italian steakhouse the Barish, which is scheduled to open in January in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

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The Bastianiches could not be reached for comment.

In a letter to employees Wednesday, Silverton and the Bastianich siblings acknowledged the “challenging year” they had faced and said their California restaurants had been “remarkably resilient.”

Batali also has a financial stake in Eataly, a chain of Italian marketplaces that includes a location at the Westfield Century City shopping center. On Wednesday, a spokesman for that company said it was in the process of acquiring Batali’s minority interest in Eataly USA.

In late 2017, the food website Eater reported allegations that Batali had committed sexual misconduct and sexual harassment spanning at least two decades, including multiple instances of groping and inappropriate language. Its initial report included four women; many more have since come forward and shared their stories with Eater and other news outlets.

Batali quickly stepped away from the day-to-day operations of his restaurant empire and said in a statement in December 2017 that “although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”

“That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses,” he said. “I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

The allegations had immediate consequences for Batali, who had been one of the restaurant world’s most high-profile personalities, and for his career, which in addition to restaurants included television shows, cookbooks and branded food products such as pasta, sauces, oil, vinegar and slow-cured meats.

In May, the New York Police Department said it was conducting an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Batali. Within days, his three restaurants in Las Vegas — B&B Ristorante, Otto and CarneVino — announced that they would close.

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Two months ago, the NYPD said it had closed those investigations without filing charges.

andrea.chang@latimes.com

Twitter: @byandreachang

Instagram: @byandreachang


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